This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:4/15/03
CIP Memorandum: Colombia aid in Iraq supplemental, April 2, 2003
MEMORANDUM

Date: April 2, 2003
To: Foreign policy aides
From: Adam Isacson, senior associate; Ingrid Vaicius, associate
Re: Colombia aid in Iraq supplemental

The emergency supplemental appropriation for Iraq, which Congress will debate tomorrow, includes $105 million in new assistance for the armed forces of Colombia. [$34 million from the State Department's "Andean Regional Initiative" account, $37 million from the Foreign Military Financing program, and $34 million in Defense Department counternarcotics/counterterrorism funds.] If approved, this outlay would increase to $600 million - almost $2 million per day - the amount of assistance going to Colombia's military and police in 2003.

There are three reasons why we oppose this new assistance:

  • "Mission creep": Colombia is already the world's number three recipient of U.S. security assistance. It is also the site of a 40-year-old civil war involving almost 40,000 insurgents. In the words of Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Colombia's war could become "a morass that would eat up American soldiers like we have not seen in years." Worse, as the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee pointed out last July, the administration's Colombia policy lacks "clearly defined objectives or benchmarks for measuring success" - in other words, there is no clear strategy.

    The U.S. military is obviously stretched very thinly at present. Does it make sense to take on, without sufficient debate, an ambitious new counter-insurgency mission in Colombia?

  • Human rights: Too many members of Colombia's military continue to violate human rights, or to collaborate with right-wing paramilitary groups (the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, which is on the State Department's list of international terrorist organizations). Of these, too many continue to enjoy total impunity from a weak judicial system unable to punish them. As Monday's State Department human rights report acknowledges, "Some members of the government security forces continued to commit serious abuses, including unlawful and extrajudicial killings. Some members of the security forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed serious abuses. Impunity remained at the core of the country's human rights problems."

    Increasing our aid sends a poisonous message to human rights violators among the ranks of Colombia's armed forces: abuses and impunity are a secondary priority. Increasing our aid also runs the risk of indirectly aiding the paramilitaries, since collaborative relationships exist in much of the country.

  • Why military aid? If the United States wishes to give more money to Colombia, it should go to the civilian government. Funds are desperately needed to assist more than 2 million people displaced from their homes by the violence, to strengthen the judicial system, to develop the countryside, or to make local governments work. Yet if this $105 million addition passes, only 20 percent of the United States' aid to Colombia this year will go to meet these priorities. Fighting terrorism is not just a military question - only a stronger civilian government will ultimately be able to end Colombia's war.
Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org